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A Personalized Approach to Diabetes Risk in West Georgia

February 17, 2014

For west Georgia residents at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, Get Healthy, Live Well is offering a free, personalized approach to preventing the disease.

Sixteen volunteers with Tanner Health System's Get Healthy, Live Well initiative serve as lifestyle coaches in the National Diabetes Prevention Program in west Georgia.

The community collaborative, led by Tanner Health Systems, is offering the National Diabetes Prevention Program, which provides lifestyle-changing education that can reduce a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the educational series focuses on healthy choices that can prevent diabetes and giving participants the personal support of peers and coaches to make those choices.

The classes combine small-group peer support with leadership by trained facilitators. Participants receive one-on-one mentoring to encourage healthy changes in diet and exercise and to get help making those changes a part of everyday life.

“We’re hoping to educate participants about diabetes warning signs and symptoms, how to know if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes and what they can do to fight back against the disease,” said Gina Brandenburg, a certified health education specialist with Tanner Health System and program manager for Get Healthy, Live Well.

The one-year program allows participants to work with a trained lifestyle coach in a group setting with 16 core sessions—one per week—followed by six monthly follow-up sessions. Lifestyle coaches work with participants to identify emotions and situations that can sabotage their success in being active and making healthy meal choices. The group process encourages participants to share strategies for dealing with challenging situations.

The program also teaches about pre-diabetes, the condition that often precedes diabetes, and how the steps that participants take through the program can delay or prevent their progression to full-on type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes education and intervention is increasingly important for the health of west Georgia. About one in 10 Georgians currently live with diabetes. According to CDC statistics, Carroll, Haralson and Heard Counties all rank above the national average for adults diagnosed with diabetes. In addition, almost 40,000 adults in Carroll, Haralson and Heard counties may have pre-diabetes. Nationally, the CDC estimates that as many as 35 percent of adults have pre-diabetes and many don’t even realize it.

The lifestyle change program hopes to help people cut their risk for the disease in half. With modest changes in behavior, the program can help people lose 5 to 7 percent of their body weight, according to CDC estimates. The changes the program encourages can help participants with pre-diabetes reduce their risk for developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.

The program will operate in locations throughout west Georgia. Health care facilities like Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton, Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica and Higgins General Hospital in Bremen will serve as host sites,  along with sites at the University of West Georgia, Oak Mountain Academy and Ephesus Library.

For more information visit www.GetHealthyLiveWell.org. To register, call 770.214.CARE (2273).  The registration line is open 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Class size is limited, so register early.